Decluttering Your Closet with Jessica Harumi
Watch the full recording below or scroll down to learn Jessica’s key tips for decluttering a closet.
The Need To Declutter?
Oftentimes decluttering a wardrobe is associated with spring cleaning or large closet overhauls. People think ‘out with the old, in with the new’ once they’ve emptied out their wardrobes for the upcoming season - and while all this may be true, Jessica advocates for decluttering as a stepping stone towards curating a capsule wardrobe.
A more intentional and meaningful wardrobe, capsule wardrobes are a curated collection of clothing items and accessories that lend to a more functional closet. Each item within can easily be mixed and matched with one another and it increases the use you get out of each of your items. Currently it is estimated that people only wear 20% of their wardrobe on a regular basis while the remaining 80% collects dust. With a capsule wardrobe each item is worn numerous times - letting you do more with less, and you no longer find yourself looking at all your clothes wondering which outfits can be created from the ever growing collection.
In order to attain this type of functional wardrobe - one with fewer but ‘better’ items, decluttering is often involved. Going through your clothing helps you sort through the noise as Jessica puts it and helps put both your lifestyle and wardrobe choices into perspective. Decluttering helps you identify foundational pieces of clothing and helps edit your wardrobe down to a few key pieces that work well with one another.
How to NOT Declutter
As Jessica identifies, decluttering your wardrobe is not equivalent to a big closet clear-out as the process is meant to be much more intentional and reflective. Doing a big closet clear-out can lead to textile waste, regret after items have been too hastily disposed of or given away and can make it easy to fall into the trend of buying new clothes every season after you’ve conducted a closet clean-out. Large closet clear-outs can also lead to feeling as though you’re starting from scratch if too many items are disposed of and can come to be quite costly.
Instead, the process should be slow and meaningful - much like the process of slow fashion and the intent behind capsule wardrobes.
Steps for Effectively Decluttering
The first step Jessica recommends when decluttering is sorting through your wardrobe by pulling every item out one by one in order to properly visualize everything. She recommends sorting your clothing into the following three categories: keep, release and consider, to help minimize any feelings of stress and keep the process streamlined and organized.
Self explanatory through its name, the keep pile comprises every item you want to keep and can go right back into your wardrobe or into storage if it's a seasonal item. Items that are kept should be versatile, pieces you currently wear all the time, along with items you cherish and hold great meaning to you. Decluttering is not synonymous with disposing of all clothing items, it means taking out the noise and concentrating on what brings you joy and functionality. As Jessica notes, this means it's ok to have duplicates of certain items in your keep pile if you wear each regularly and the pieces serve your wardrobe. This could mean having two white or black t-shirts like The Fair Crew Neck Tee which can easily be dressed up or down, or even owning more than one pair of jeans or leggings like The Fair Legging.
When beginning the creation of your keep pile you may already have an idea as to what items you know you want to hold on to. There’s no set number of items any one person should have in their wardrobe so keep what makes sense for curating an intentional wardrobe that works with your lifestyle.
As the name states, the release pile is clothing items you will be releasing from your wardrobe and finding ways to responsibly rehome or recycle each piece. Not sure what your options are for getting rid of clothes you no longer wear? Read this article to learn what to do with your unwanted or unworn clothing items where we break down when to resell, donate, recycle or compost used clothing.
The release pile should consist of items you haven’t worn in over a year, anything that is badly ripped, stained and damaged beyond repair. As Jessica shares, her ideal timeframe is the one year mark for noticing when the last time an item was worn but for others due to the seasonality of certain items, can extend this timeframe to 18 months if they feel this is a more accurate representation of what they wear.
If you’re unsure as to what items to keep but don’t feel ready to part with them just yet, Jessica suggests creating a ‘consider’ pile where further steps can be taken to decide if you should keep the item or add it to the release pile. The consider pile is there to revisit at a later date once you’ve given each item more thought. Items to go in the consider pile could include clothing pieces that you’ve been meaning to get tailored for a while or dry cleaned and just haven’t gotten to in a long time or items that you think you might wear if you experimented with the styling a bit more.
For items that need some extra love and tailoring, use this time to reflect as to why you’ve not gotten them cleaned or repaired yet - has this stopped you from putting outfits together and has it caused a gap in your wardrobe? Perhaps they’re items you don’t truly need or wouldn’t wear often and can release once tended to?
Another option for helping you decide which items to keep or release within your consideration pile is ‘shopping’ your wardrobe as Jessica puts it. Put the items away and see if you reach for any of them and note which ones stay tucked away while you ‘shop’ certain pieces. If after a month or two if certain items have yet to be considered this may be a marker that it’s time to part ways.
Once the clothes have been sorted, Jessica suggests moving on to organizing the clothing that you have identified from your keep pile.
To her, organizing starts with finding your core wardrobe pieces that can typically be worn year round in order to start building a capsule wardrobe with items that will compliment your foundational pieces. You can choose how many core pieces you select however Jessica recommends starting with 10 core items or so.
A core piece could be a blouse like The Comfy Blouse and complimentary pieces could include a cardigan that mixes and matches with other core items. When selecting your items, think about your lifestyle, work, weekend plans etc. and which versatile pieces would compliment one another for multiple purposes. As Jessica shares, her favourite core pieces include:
The Comfy Wide Leg Crop - A great basic, this piece can be dressed up or down across seasons and is made of a comfortable modal material. Paired with a collared shirt or tank top, Jessica wears these pants for both lounging around the house and when heading out to patio dinners.
The Dressy Sweatpants - Comfortable and not too compressed, Jessica loves her dressy sweatpants that are cozy enough to lounge in and dressy enough to head to the office in by wearing the leggings as pants.
Other tips that Jessica highlights when organizing your wardrobe during the decluttering process is organizing the clothes within your closet or drawers based on function. She recommends separating workwear from loungewear as well as having coats separately to minimize the noise when searching for function specific items, making it easier to visualize what in front can be combined into an outfit.
Keeping off season items out of the way like specific holiday outfits will also ease the selection process when getting dressed every morning.
Things To Consider When Decluttering Your Wardrobe
Decluttering your wardrobe can be an overwhelming task that can stir up a lot of emotion throughout the process. Jessica emphasizes that going through your clothes to declutter them does not have to be a one day activity.
Organize Long Term
Organize your wardrobe long term by using the hanger trick where all hangers are facing the same direction and when an item is worn, the hanger is turned the opposite way. By the end of 6 months to 1 year, it should be clear which items you have yet to reach for and can thus be released. This trick works well for items that may be lingering within your consider pile as well.
Clothes Should Fit You
Clothes are supposed to fit you and not the other way around so don’t feel guilty about releasing items as they can be rehomed to people who want them/need them. When decluttering, you’re working towards building a wardrobe that works for you and your lifestyle, if it no longer works for you then acknowledge that the item will serve its purpose for someone else and recognize that there is no need to feel guilty.
Consider why you’re giving the item away. Be conscious moving forward in your clothing purchases and think of why it didn't work out with this item whether it be the colour, versatility, size, lifestyle changes etc. Considering why the item is no longer for you allows you to move forward and be more intentional about future clothing purchases.
Ultimately, Jessica highlights that decluttering your wardrobe is not a one size fits all process just as capsule wardrobes look different for everyone. The importance of going through your clothes slowly and with intent lies with what you learn about yourself and your clothing habits to be able to move forward with a wardrobe that is functional, well worn, comfortable and brings you joy.
What's the hardest part of decluttering your wardrobe for you? Let us know in the comments!